Dirty Dancing at The Orchard Theatre

Dirty Dancing
Dirty Dancing at the Orchard Theatre

Dirty Dancing is unashamedly one of my favourite movies and I have seen both the previous West End production and tour, both of which I enjoyed immensely. It therefore had a lot to live up to but I needn’t have worried.

Dirty DancingFor those of you that don’t know the story of Dirty Dancing (does such a person exist – if so hang your head in shame!!) it tells of Baby who arrives at Kellermans, an all American holiday park, with her sister and parents. Working at Kellermans are dance act/instructors, Penny & Johnny. Baby soon discovers that Penny is in ‘trouble’ (translate to: Is pregnant and wants an abortion) and despite assumptions by Baby’s father than Johnny is the father, the real father isn’t willing to help. It falls to Baby to try to save the day and not only borrow the cash but to learn Penny’s dance routine so she can fulfill her job at a local hotel. Of course Baby soon falls for Johnny but the path of love never runs smooth, well the movie/show would be dull if it did.

The main thing that strikes you about this show is how feel good it is. The pace is slick, the music is great and the dancing is stunning. Jonny Castle is played by Michael O’Reilly and Penny by Simone Covele who wow the audience every time they dance together with kicks and lifts executed to perfection. The choreographer, Gillian Bruce has managed to stay true to the original choreography whilst adapting it for a theatre audience. The ensemble are equally as strong on the dance front and when Baby emerges into the staff quarters for the first time the contrasting dance style is captured perfectly. My only criticism would be that at times I would have liked to have seen more dancers/couples however I appreciate that this is a touring production and sometimes budget doesn’t always allow for a larger cast.

Dirty DancingThe music is provided with a mixture of pre-recorded pop classics from the movie, such as Hungry Eyes and some live music played by Kellerman’s band and 2 vocalists. Whilst I wasn’t wild about the vocalists, it didn’t detract from the slick production.

Baby was played by Kira Malou and she played Baby with a great youthful innocence. Unfortunately O’Reilly’s acting let him down slightly as he came across as quite wooden rather that charismatic but with his dance ability you swiftly overlooked this.

Dirty Dancing ‘ The Classic Story on Stage’ stage sticks very closely to the movie, so much so that I often had to refrain myself from mouthing the lines. When I say they stick closely to the movie you would be forgiven in thinking that they would have to leave some scenes out. For example the iconic scene from the film where Baby and Johnny practise ‘that’ lift in the water can’t be done on stage…can it? Well this proves that it can….all be it in a tongue-in-cheek manner and perfectly accepting of the chuckles from the audience.

The set was the same set that had been used on the previous tour but I had been very complimentary about it then. It works with a simple revolve, meaning the action can flow from inside to outside the club house very easily. It was also a nice touch that the waiters did many of the scene changes to set up the tables inside the Clubhouse.

Dirty Dancing is the perfect night out for both the movie lovers and those that simply love watching dance (Strictly fans I’m looking at you). The show may not be highly original but it is a fun nights entertainment which will leave you grinning from ear to ear and wishing you had kept up the dance lessons!

To find out more about the show visit the tour’s website.

If you like this review you might also like my review for Strictly Ballroom and 42nd Street.

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